Notes for Azed 2,714

There are usually one or two points of interest in an Azed puzzle, and here we pick them out for comment. Please feel free to add your own questions or observations on any aspect of the puzzle (including clues not listed below) either by using the comment form at the bottom of the page or, if would prefer that your question/comment is not publicly visible, by email.

Azed 2,714 Plain

Difficulty rating: 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Another plain puzzle – surely July’s competition puzzle will be a ‘special’? I tackled this one later in the day than usual, but it seemed to me quite tricky in parts, so I’ve rated it as being just above the middle of the range. A couple of the definitions struck me as being decidedly iffy.

Setters’ Corner: Today I’m going to look at clue 23d, “Change label for small bird left in charge of another (7)”. The parsing of the clue is covered below, but the point of interest here is the definition. Azed has (as he invariably does) avoided a trap which can catch out even experienced setters and, on occasion, their editors. This is to define a transitive verb as though it were intransitive. For instance, the verb ‘rename’ is transitive – in the active form it must have an object, ie you always rename something (a newspaper, a pet, a chocolate bar etc). When writing a clue, you might think that ‘supply new handle’ was a nice oblique definition which could be used in a clue where the context misleadingly suggests a handle on a piece of equipment, eg “Ewer man damaged leaking whiskey? Supply new handle”. But trying the substitution test, is ‘They renamed Opal Fruits’ the same as ‘They supplied new handle Opal Fruits’ or ‘The supplied Opal Fruits new handle’? No, it certainly isn’t, because ‘supply’ would need to have two objects, the thing being renamed and its new name. Easily fixed in this example – “Supply new handle for ewer man damaged, leaking whiskey”. Similarly, a definition like ‘supply new label’ without a pronoun would not be sound. Note, however, that something like ‘give new handle’ for RENAME would be ok, because ‘give’ can function as a ditransitive (two-object) verb – ‘They gave Opal Fruits a new name’.


2a Decay enveloping bones with time in stone circle (11)
A six-letter word meaning ‘[to] decay’ (as rubber might) contains (‘enveloping’) the plural of a word for the ankle-bone and the usual abbreviation for ‘time’.

13a Type of sword, of something not unalike tar abandoned (4)
A seven-letter word (probably more familiar in its eight-letter form, certainly if you are an aficionado of Reliant sports cars) for one type of sword (‘something not unalike’, ie not unalike the answer) is deprived of the consecutive letters TAR in order to produce the type of sword that needs to be entered in the grid.

15a Strip from e.g. prawn almost always involved in first half of meal? (6)
A four-letter word meaning ‘always’ has its last letter removed (‘almost’) before being contained by (‘involved in’ ) the first three letters of a six-letter word for a particular meal.

16a Piece of (Greek) pottery found in excavation (not the first)? (4)
This just about scrapes through as an &lit, where the whole clue serves as an indication of the answer. The wordplay has the first letter (‘piece’) of POTTERY (‘Why not GREEK?’, I hear you ask) enclosed by (‘found in’) a four-letter word for an excavation (the sort that council workmen might be responsible for) missing its first letter (‘not the first’).

17a Bone suffers? Take out (5)
A six-letter word meaning ‘suffers’, in the way that one suffers a charge for leaving your car in a shoppers’ car park for more than two hours, has the usual abbreviation for ‘take’ removed (‘take out’).

25a Improves version of indefinable quality in orchestral section (7)
A two-letter word for that special  je ne sais quoi is surrounded by a term for a subset of the windy part of an orchestra.

29a Girl switching parts in drive? (4)
A four-letter term for a child, typically disrespectful when applied to a woman at any later point in life, has its first pair of letters swapped with the second pair (‘switching parts’).

34a Translation from Latin left out – it’s not found in formal language (4)
An anagram of (‘translation from’) LATIN missing the usual abbreviation for ‘left’ (‘left out’) results in something that certainly ???’? found in formal language, but the definition here doesn’t work for me.

35a Liquor is Scotch to put in calendar? (10)
The letters IS (from the clue) and a four-letter word with a Scots sense of ‘to’ (in fact, the English meanings also include ‘to’, in a sentence such as ‘He renewed his passport to the end of 2028’) are put inside a word for ‘calendar’ in the sense of ‘to fix a time for (an event)’.

36a Style traced thus? (11)
A self-referencing clue – when the answer (‘thus’)  is applied cryptically to the remainder of the wordplay, it produces itself.


4d Dry off to hide maze of blood vessels (4)
A seven-letter word meaning ‘to hide’ has a three-letter word meaning ‘dry’ (specifically applied to vin) omitted.

6d Came across upcoming opening – when? (7)
A reversal (‘upcoming’) of a three-letter word meaning ‘came across’ is followed by a word for an opening (typically in the, or least a, skin). The definition is somewhat puzzling – the answer means ‘in the time of’ (applied normally to a ruler, eg Henry VIII, or a pre-eminent individual in their field, eg Galileo) but that’s not the same as ‘when’ (with or without a question mark).

7d Divine drink maiden’s drained from fine porcelain (5)
A six-letter word for the drink of the Hindu gods is deprived of the usual cricketing abbreviation for ‘maiden’ (“maiden’s drained from [the drink]”).

8d Cal. City guy tops eminent scientist in local tasks (6)
A (2,2) phrase which could describe a fellow from the California city that ten out of ten crossword setters like best is followed by a two-letter abbreviation for a body of eminent scientists and, by analogy with RA, thus one of said scientists.

12d Soapstone that can be bought cold, set with diamonds, tons (10, 2 words)
A five-letter word meaning ‘open to bribery’ (‘that can be bought’) and the usual abbreviation for ‘cold’ are put around (‘set with’) a three-letter slang word for diamonds and the usual abbreviation for ‘tons’. The answer is (6,4).

18d Spoils set out? Not much of a stretch in India (4)
A seven-letter word roughly meaning ‘spoils’ (as in ‘she spoils that boy’) has the consecutive letters SET deleted (‘set out’) in order to produce a word for a distance that seems like a fair stretch to me if I were asked to cover it at anything above a steady walking pace, particularly before breakfast and without the assistance of a motor vehicle.

23d Change label for small bird left in cage of another (7)
A three-letter ‘small bird’ and the usual abbreviation for ‘left’ (again) are contained by (‘in cage of’) the name of another bird (female), larger than the first one, if hardly a whopper.

32d Old and young one reared in Orcadian estate (4)
The usual abbreviation for ‘old’ is followed by a reversal (‘reared’) of a term for a young person, specifically male outside of equestrian circles.

(definitions are underlined)

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